The expressed oil of the seeds of Ricinus communis.—U.S.
Dose.—The oil may be given in doses of ʒss. to ℥j.
Therapeutic Action.—Castor oil is a mild, safe, and speedy cathartic. It rarely produces griping, or any irritation of the bowels, and when it operates it simply removes accumulations in them, without materially increasing the intestinal secretions. Its mild and unirritating qualities will readily point the practitioner of medicine to the class of diseases in which it will be found most important, and to the cure of which it seems to be most appropriate. It may be used in any case where a mild and unirritating, and not a revulsive and hydragogue cathartic is indicated.
The cases in which it seems most to be indicated are those in which there is gastro-intestinal irritation, or a debilitated state of the bowels, or general debility, as during the advanced stages of fever, during pregnancy and the puerperal state, in constipation where a simple evacuant is required, in cases where acrid agents have been taken into the stomach, or wherever acrid secretions or accumulations are present in the intestinal canal, and also in many diseases peculiar to children.
In mucous enteritis, castor oil is regarded as a most valuable agent; it is extensively employed in this disease, owing to its mild and unirritating character. It is often combined with the oil of turpentine and laudanum in dysentery, and used with much advantage. The castor oil and turpentine answer a very valuable purpose in typhoid fever attended with tympanitis; the same combination is also very useful in the tympanitis of puerperal peritonitis.
In constipation arising from hardened feces, castor oil lubricates the bowels, and causes their evacuation. It may be combined with harsh and acrid medicines to lessen their irritating properties.
It is considered a mild and useful cathartic for children, and when there is an irritable condition of the bowels, and a simple agent is required, perhaps there is no cathartic which answers a better purpose. It is combined with many anthelmintics, as worm-seed oil, to assist their action. Infants require relatively larger doses than adults. A peculiarity with regard to this agent as a cathartic is, that reduced quantities are required to produce purging after it has been frequently administered to a patient.
The seeds of the castor oil plant are powerfully cathartic and emetic. Two or three of them will purge, and seven or eight will act violently, producing emesis and hyper-catharsis.
As a means of disguising the taste of this article, the Electuary of Septimus Piesse will probably be found the most efficient. Rx Castor Oil ℥iij., white soft soap ʒj., simple syrup ʒj., oil of cinnamon, gtt. vj. Rub the soap with the simple syrup in a mortar, and then add gradually the castor oil, with constant trituration, until it is thoroughly incorporated with the above ingredients. Finally, mix with the electuary thus formed, the oil of cinnamon, or any other essential oil that may be preferred. By this means a gelatinous electuary will be formed, which is rather palatable than otherwise, and nearly equals, bulk for bulk, castor oil in strength.